Commissioners to let public have say on tax-exempt status for CKC

The Marion County Board of Commissioners will ask for public input about whether to accept an application for tax-exemption from the Central Kansas Conservancy.

The CKC is the responsible party for 33 miles of railbanked railroad corridor between Marion and McPherson. The organization would like to see the corridor become a trail for recreational uses.

Clint Anderson, county appraiser, informed commissioners Linda Peterson and Bob Hein of the CKC’s request.

“It is my opinion, from what I understand from the statutes, that they do not qualify for an exemption,” Anderson said. He added that the state’s Board of Tax Approval had not ruled on the question.

Anderson said a public hearing would not be necessary unless either the county or the CKC requested one. He said Morris County had held a hearing when the issue was posed to them, and the discussion had been lively.

On hand to offer their input were Kevin and Angy Jost, who own land adjacent to the railroad corridor west of Hillsboro.

They said the CKC has avoided its obligation to prepare a formal plan for the use of the trail, pay property taxes, and control weeds-as required by state law.

“Why would we even want to negotiate with people who have absolutely no respect of the law?” Kevin Jost asked.

Commissioners agreed with Anderson’s suggestion that his office recommend that the application be denied and that a public hearing be held. No date was set for a hearing.

In other action, commissioners Peterson and Hein:

— agreed to purchase four new radios for the Peabody ambulance crew for a total of $2,184. Tammy Whiteside, representing the crew, said money has been tight for emergency equipment in their part of the county.

“My husband had to buy his own (radio) because there were no funds,” she said.

— agreed to have Michelle Abbot-Becker, head of the county’s communication and emergency preparedness office, accept bids to purchase a new mobile radio. The old radio was not able to be switched to the new county-wide frequency. Commissioners also approved the purchase of a new scanner for about $200.

— heard from Gerald Kelsey, director of the road and bridge department, that the county’s steel roller is making engine noises and is not useable.

At the previous meeting, Kelsey had reported that both of the county’s rollers were needing repairs. Commissioners had asked him to gather information about leasing or buying new ones.

At Kelsey’s invitation, Dave Griffin and Kelly Haworth, representing the G.W. Van Keppel company, were on hand to promote the idea of buying new units. Griffin said both of the old units, if repaired, would also have to be retrofitted for rollbar canopies to comply with federal regulations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

— accepted a bid from Krause Welding of $38,650 to repair steel bridge No. 231 located south of Peabody on the county line.

— discussed scheduling options for a Labor Day weekend fireworks show at Marion County Park & Lake with park manager Dale Snelling.

Snelling was concerned that the event, which was initiated by the Marion County Economic Development Committee, not conflict with Labor Day festivities in Florence. The start of the high school football season on Friday night presented another dilemma.

“If we’re going to have something like this, we’d want more than just five or six campers to come to it,” Snelling said.

He said a decision about the proposed event would need to be made soon because the company creating the show would need to order the fireworks soon.

Commissioners told Snelling to talk with Dennis Nichols of the MCEDC about the situation.

— heard from Joann Knak, director of Marion County Emergency Medical Service, that ambulances made 55 calls in June and 70 in July. First responders made 10 calls in June and 11 in July.

“I’m surprised, with the heat, that we haven’t been running any heat-related calls,” she said. She praised residents for taking proper precautions against high temperatures.

Knak reported her department will have to write off $10,325 in transport charges for Medicare and other insurances for the last quarter. She also presented $1,100 in delinquent payments from private accounts.

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